The Impact of Owning a Pet on Indoor Air Quality

The Impact of Owning a Pet on Indoor Air Quality

Owning a pet comes with numerous benefits. Science has proven that the presence of a pet can improve mood and manage loneliness by providing companionship. Moreover, a pet opens opportunities to go outside and exercise, resulting in a decrease in blood pressure and cholesterol. Your pet can even make you more sociable as they give you chances to have positive interactions with other people.

Most American households care for at least one pet. About 32 percent of homes across the United States have dogs. Meanwhile, 27 percent of homes in the country have cats.

To pet owners, their furry pals have become a part of the family. However, no matter how much people love their pets, sometimes, these animals create circumstances that negatively affect the health and safety of the people around them.

Pets’ Impact on Indoor Air

People spend the majority of their time (up to 90 percent) indoors. If not at home, people are at the office working, at a theater watching a movie, at a restaurant having a meal, or in their car driving home. Although people more often associate air pollution outdoors where there is vehicular traffic, the air quality indoors might be worse.

Mold, pollen, tobacco smoke, cleaning products, harmful gases like radon, and building materials such as asbestos. Exposure to indoor air pollution can lead to respiratory symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and sneezing. It may also exacerbate existing allergies, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Others might experience general malaise while breathing bad indoor air. In rare cases, indoor air pollutants may increase the risk of developing respiratory diseases or cancer.

Pets can worsen indoor air quality by shedding dander, tiny flecks of skin. Dander, which is released by animals with feathers and fur, including cats and dogs, can cause an allergic reaction to some people.

The proteins found in pet saliva, urine, and feces can also cause adverse reactions to humans. When dried saliva, feces, and urine flake off from animal fur, it can become airborne and can trigger allergy symptoms if inhaled.

A cat’s cat pee smell can sometimes come across like ammonia due to urinary infections. When exposed to a large amount of ammonia in urine, respiratory problems, skin irritations, and eye irritations can occur. Visit your veterinarian to alleviate the odor.

Then there is the more obvious problem of pet fur. Pet parents are well aware of how fur can get everywhere. Although fur itself is not a trigger, pets can still carry allergens that exacerbate indoor air pollution.

But it should not be a trade-off. People with pets at home can still enjoy clean indoor air.

Keep Filters Clean

Most home heating and cooling systems are equipped with filters that remove allergens and pollutants in the air. However, dust and dirt start to accumulate after a while, preventing the filter from doing its job efficiently.

Homeowners should make sure to clean their furnace and air conditioning filters regularly. Doing so will ensure that you and your loved ones can breathe indoor air that is free from particles that may trigger an allergic reaction or exacerbate existing respiratory conditions. Moreover, cleaning the filter can prevent you from needing to call a repairman in the middle of winter or buying a new air conditioning unit at the height of summer. Still, you must have your furnace repaired at the first sign of a gas leak or uneven heating, which usually happens if the unit is old.

Invest in Air Purifiers

As an added measure against indoor air pollutants and allergens, homeowners can purchase and install a dedicated air purifier that can remove even the smallest particles.

There are different types of air purifiers in the market today, and they vary based on the technology they use to remove pollutants and allergens from the air. What pet owners need, however, are units that utilize high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. HEPA filters can remove 99.97 percent of all particles in the air, even those as small as 0.3 micrometers.

HEPA filters can capture pet fur and dander. However, it is only effective if the filter is replaced regularly, preferably once every six to 12 months.

Regular Pet Hygiene

Moreover, your pet would not shed too much pet dander as long as they bathe regularly. Giving your pup a shower once a week will significantly reduce the allergens they release inside the house.

In addition, brushing your pet’s fur should be done outdoors. Brushing removes pet dander from the animal’s skin. Doing it outside reduces the particles that get shaken off and shed inside the house, preventing exposure.

Everyone loves their pets, but pets can bring allergens and pollutants inside the house. They can contribute to the worsening indoor air quality. Humans suffer when the air inside the house is filled with unseen particles that can trigger adverse reactions and can cause respiratory ailments. Through proper pet hygiene and regular maintenance of air filters, pet owners can enjoy clean indoor air.

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